PART 2: STEVE "SILK" HURLEY - "I CAN'T TURN AROUND (2ND DEMO 1984)"
With all of the controversy over J.M. Silk's "I Can't Turn Around" vs. Farley's "Love Can't Turn Around", we wanted to have House Music Pioneer Steve "Silk" Hurley tell the history of how "I Cant Turn Around" came to be. Those who are not from Chicago may not know the real story:
In 1983 at at Sauers, I tried using my first drum machine…a Cassio. It was a toy…and it was a failure. I tried it for a few seconds and I knew the sound wasn’t right. Then I purchased a Boss Dr Rhythm drum machine. I took 2 vinyl copies of Kikrokos' "Life Is A Jungle" (Jungle DJ) and beat-juggled them over a Dr. Rhythm pattern I created to make a more energetic version. Ron Hardy played this “Jungle DJ (Silk Rework)," as well as my re-edits of the disco classics “Big Freak” and “Down To Love Town” at The Music Box all the time. But that was before I learned how to make original tracks from scratch.
Most people outside of Chicago think “Music Is The Key” was the first track I created because it was my first vinyl release. But before that, I had experimental drum machine versions of “I Cant Turn Around "(an old Isaac Hayes song that was very popular for being played as a re-edit), “Love Is The Message” (By MFSB), and “Bra” (Originally by Cymande). Then I wrote totally original tracks called “I Don’t Know, “In And Out”, and finally, “Music Is The Key. I played all of my exclusives from cassette & reel to reel at places like The Bismarck, The Resurrection, Sauers and anyplace else that I played.
The previous video is a copy of my 1st version of "I Cant Turn Around" (ORIGINAL 1ST DEMO-1983), which was played by the late legendary DJ's Frankie Knuckles (Powerplant) & Ron Hardy (Music Box) in 1983, and by many other DJ's in Chicago. (Go back and give it a listen!)
I still remember when Maurice Joshua and Hula Mahone hired me to come to the South Suburbs. I brought my Tascam 4-track cassette to mix in these House Tracks I was working on in my makeshift bedroom studio. Also Jam Master Jay brought me to The Screamin Wheels in Glenwood and I did the same…played my EXCLUSIVES. Some of the DJs got copies from me and also played them. So because of all the collective support, I gained the confidence to keep making tracks, and had a thirst to release them commercially.
I noticed that my 2nd demo of “I Can’t Turn Around” (THIS VIDEO) started to get an even bigger response than any vinyl record I was playing. So I knew I needed to get that song out. However, I didn’t know how to go about it. I had zero experience in the music industry, so I did not know how to get that done. Therefore I shifted my focus to “Music Is The Key”, which is why that became my first release.
After “ Music Is The Key wasn’t released, Keith Nunnally and I became closer due to having the J.M. Silk music group together. Farley was my roommate at the time, but with all of the rehearsals, it started to be a little bit too crowded to rehearse and write, so I got my own place. When I moved to the new apartment, I noticed that at some point my 4-track master of “I Can’t Turn Around” had gone missing. Farley said he hadn’t seen it, and I figured at some point it would show up.
In the meantime The J.M. Silk group was signed to RCA and we were finishing the photo shoots and pre-publicity interviews for the J.M. Silk version of “I Can’t Turn Around”, which was slated to be our first single from our album. However, Farley decided to beat us to the punch and decided to make his own version based on my arrangement. I was shocked to hear “Love Can’t Turn Around” in Farley’s DJ mix on the radio. It was a blatant theft of my arrangement but with new words by Jesse Saunders and Vince Lawerence, and the late Darryl Pandy singing.
Because of my upbringing, I took the high road and didn’t let it resort to violence, as many people around me thought it would. I just stayed on my path, and despite the fact that our version looked like a copy of Farley’s to the world outside of Chicago, J.M. Silk's “I Can’t Turn Around” was the 1st House Music song to reach #1 on the Billboard Dance Charts. And “Love Can’t Turn Around’s” success in London opened the door for my song, “Jack Your Body” to go #1 on the U.K. National Chart for 2 weeks. I found out later from a mutual friend that Farley actually had my master to copy from all along. At this point, Farley had stolen from me twice and I was done with him, but there was really nothing I could do about it legally.
So although I felt betrayed by a friend, I have no regrets, as this series of mishaps created life lessons for me, and a roadmap to a career in music through perseverance, hard work, and a constant effort to develop my craft. No matter what higher power you believe in, or even if you don’t believe, I think we all can agree that there is a balance in "The Universe” that knows what it is doing.
-Steve "Silk" Hurley - S&S Records, Chicago